The cold seeped into his body as Riley Finn stood in awe in front of the Chartres Cathedral. The moon shined brightly illuminating the ancient building. It was without a doubt one of the most breathtaking pieces of architecture he had ever seen. It made him wish he could’ve been there in other circumstances so that he might have enjoyed the wonders of this magnificent cathedral. But that wasn’t the reason for his arrival in France. He was there on Special Ops business.
He had gotten the order three days ago; a group of vampires had set up a nest in or around the cathedral. Intel wasn’t really too clear on the specifics. Apparently every operative to date that had been sent to Chartres hadn’t been seen or heard from since. Which meant, either the vampire population was growing by leaps and bounds or the existing vampires were eating really well.
Riley grimaced as that particular image shot across his brain. It was the last thing he needed to think about right now. And while he couldn’t necessarily have called them friends they were his colleagues. Or at least they had been. He adjusted the M14 rifle he was carrying on his shoulder. Which while a great weapon under normal circumstances, it was really quite useless against vampires but the brass had insisted he carry it with him. And of course he did nothing if not follow orders.
As soon as he had read his orders he had wanted to ask why the brass simply hadn’t contacted the slayer. After all hunting vampires was more of her specialty then theirs. But for obvious reasons he had been loath to bring up her name. It wasn’t that her name was mud when it came to the brass, although they really weren’t her biggest fans, it had more to do with the fact that no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t make himself get over her.
So, instead of having help or back-up there he was alone in France, one of the most romantic countries in the world and he was there to hunt and destroy vampires. His life couldn’t really get any more fucked up then that.
As he stared up at the cathedral he could almost feel something humming against his skin. He couldn’t understand how a vampire could willingly walk through its hallowed doors. The only vampire he could think of that would have the balls to do it and only if there were nuns involved was Angelus. But a quick call to Giles had assured him Angel was still safely in control. But for some reason the conversation hadn’t given him the level of comfort he had been hoping for. Because Angel even on a good day was still a vampire capable of a lot of horrendous things. No matter how many people he had snowed. Once more Riley grimaced and sent up a silent prayer of thanks that no one could hear what he was thinking. Because he had to admit this wasn’t his most shining moment. He came off sounding like a jealous teenager and at his age he really couldn’t pull off the teenager part anymore.
With a sigh, Riley began to climb the steps leading up to the cathedral doors. There was something almost eerie about the way his UGG boots, government issue of course, fell silently on the frozen ground. Granted while hunting vampires silence was the wisest course of action but still.... Spooky.
As the feeling got stronger Riley began to think that maybe he should have let the brass give him some sort of back-up, they had offered, but the truth was the Special Ops team was stretched pretty thin at the moment. Even Graham was off on another mission alone somewhere in the middle of Belize. Although the brass usually didn’t sanction field operatives going it alone at the moment they didn’t have much of a choice. And Riley really hadn’t wanted to take a rookie out on his first mission either so that left him to deal with the situation alone.
As his hand reached for the door someone or something covered his hand. With his hand pulled back into a fist, Riley whirled around ready to deck whoever or whatever it was that had startled him.
His ex-girlfriend grinned and nodded her head.
She almost given him a heart attack and she was grinning at him? Scratch that. She had almost gotten herself knocked out. It ticked him off because he was from Iowa and he had been raised on the adage that you never hit a lady. Not even if they were asking for it. Of course, he knew she was the Slayer and could take him but he felt confident about this one time especially since he had the surprise element on his side. “You want to tell me what in the hell you’re doing here?”
Buffy couldn’t help but bristle at his tone. It wasn’t as if she had expected wine and roses from him the minute she had shown up but she hadn’t expected out right hostility either. Granted they hadn’t ended their relationship on the best of notes, but still a certain level of civility wouldn’t hurt. After all she had tried to catch him before the helicopter took off but of course he didn’t know that. And besides no matter what had or hadn’t happened between them she still held him in her heart. “I talked to Giles and he said you had called and asked about Angel. And he said....”
So that was it. One mention of Angel and Buffy came running. What a surprise. Not.” Riley quickly interrupted. He really didn’t want to hear anymore. “Well, Giles told me Angel was still in control so you can run along back home to your precious Angel.” Damn! Even as the words left his mouth Riley knew he was acting like a jackass but it was too late to recall them. Angel or just the mention of his name really didn’t bring out the best in him.
Buffy’s mouth hung open in shock as she stared at her ex. She was momentarily too stunned to form words. Thankfully that didn’t last long. “For your information, Riley. He is not my precious Angel.” She prayed silently for forgiveness for that little white lie. Whether they were together or not Angel would always be a part of her. “As a matter of fact I haven’t seen Angel since we stopped The First a few years ago.”
The brass had informed the team the minute the situation with The First had come about. Riley had been the first one ready to gear up and hop on a helicopter back to Sunnydale but ultimately they had decided to let the Slayer and the rest of her team handle the situation without any interference.
“Yeah, I read that there had been a big battle for Sunnydale. I thought...” Wait. What had she said? She hadn’t seen Angel since then? Riley felt his heart begin to do somersaults in his chest. He felt like yelling from the rooftops but of course that wasn’t the appropriate thing to do in a stealth mission. So instead he settled on whispering an apology. “I’m sorry, Buffy. I didn’t mean to... He just makes me...” He quickly held out his hand. “Can we just start over?”
For a minute Buffy stared at his hand and Riley began to wonder if she would accept his apology. Finally after the longest time she nodded her head before she slowly slipped her small hand in his. “Shall we go find us some vampires and kick their asses?”
With a nod, Riley released her hand to fall back to her side before he motioned for her to precede him through the door.
Buffy reached out to touch the door. The night was quiet, no birds called, not even the sound of cars traveling past broke the silence. It was almost as if Mother Nature herself knew something wasn’t quite right inside. Suddenly, she turned around to face Riley. “How can you not be making any noise? I mean really? You’re a big guy. I should hear some kind of soft noise coming from you at least.”
Riley bit his lip to keep from smiling as he whispered, “It’s the UGG boots. You should really try them. I swear I was walking in the middle of... well another country scattered with dead leaves and I didn’t even hear my own footsteps much less those of my team.”
For a brief moment she looked at him as if he had lost his mind. “Are you getting paid by the endorsement? You sound like a walking advertisement.”
He quickly gave her a wink. “No, but they’re really great boots.”
Without another word Buffy pulled open the door and as she stepped through every slayer sense she had began to come alive. This was why she was here. What she was called for.
The hall was long and although really wide it still didn’t seem wide enough for the two of them. Buffy shrugged her shoulders. But that could just be her reaction to the nearness to Riley. He really was a big guy. As they came to the end they stopped and peaked around the corner. What they saw in the center of the labyrinth brought them up short. Surely, it couldn’t be. But it was. Standing before them was another creation of Maggie Walsh’s. It had to be.
As they stared in shocked silence they knew this wasn’t something either of them had been prepared for. They hadn’t even known it could exist. After all they both had thought Buffy and her team had taken care of the last of Maggie Walsh’s creations with the death of Adam. But Riley was positive. The thing reminded him too much of Adam, but with more of a human appearance, to be anything other than a creation of his former Commander’s. Unless the thing had a different power cell than the one Adam had had there was no way the two of them could defeat it. He quickly motioned for Buffy to follow him. They had to get out and regroup.
Suddenly a loud booming voice wrung out, almost deafening in tone. “Look, lost ones for he has come. As it was foretold. Join us. I have spent years waiting for this moment.” It motioned one hand toward were Riley and Buffy were both hiding. “Come now, Riley. Be a good boy. Don’t make me come get you.”
That cinched it. He really didn’t have a choice. There was no way he was letting that thing get close to Buffy. As Riley stood she tried to grab his hand but he moved away. He didn’t know what made him do it but for some reason he took off the M14 rifle and handed it to her. His tone was so low she could barely hear him. But she understood the whispered urgency. “Stay here.”
Riley stood and walked toward the center of the room. “What are you?”
“I am Omega. Mother created me as the last hope for her wondrous world that you and I shall bring forth together.”
Riley shook his head as he stopped and folded his arms across his chest. “I ain’t helping you bring forth anything.”
“Ah but brother, you have no choice. It is your destiny.”
“That’s not my destiny. I don’t have one. I thought I did once but dealing with Adam kind of ruined that.”
Omega glanced around the room. He really didn’t want to speak of badly of his mother in front of the rest of them. After all it wasn’t her fault she was only human and capable of making mistakes. At least she had proved herself in the end with the creation of him. “Leave us.” He waited until he was positive the cathedral had cleared before he began to speak, “Yes. You speak of Mother’s first creation. He was flawed.”
Really? You don’t say. For the life of him, and it just might be, Riley couldn’t hold his tongue. “How are you any different?”
The thing calling himself Omega walked closer to stand in front of Riley. “You see before you, brother a perfect living specimen. I have all the speed, strength and dominance from the demon parts mother put in me. But I also have all of the knowledge of man. That part that makes you human. I...”
Riley had to stop him. “You consider yourself human?”
Omega shook his head sadly. How he wished Mother had given her favorite son, Riley, a better understanding of what was to come. “No, I am not human. I am better. Isn’t riding a horse better than walking? Isn’t driving a car better than riding a horse?”
It was all Riley could do not to scratch his head. He simply couldn’t wrap his mind around where this conversation was going. “Huh?”
“Think of it like this my brother. What if with each new generation humans could get better?”
“But we do. Each generation learns more, adapts more. Eventually we will...”
“That’s my point. Eventually.” He slammed his large fist into the palm of his hand. “It’s taking too long. Besides while we wait for the best of the best to arrive the mediocre ones are like cockroaches, breeding and existing where they shouldn’t exist at all. They serve no purpose.” Omega reached out and clasped Riley on the shoulder. “I think it’s time you knew of Mother’s true plan. While the Initiative wanted an army of supersoldiers created from humans, demons and machines, to fight and make war. Mother’s plan was a lot simple and in the long run infinitely easier to accomplish.”
“And that is?”
“Simple. Mother saw past the need for soldiers to the glaring need for better, peaceful human beings. So instead of just humans there will be superhumans. And they will be almost as perfect as me.”
Riley stared as Omega stuck out his chest proudly. Apparently Maggie had also seen fit to give her creation a not so healthy dose of ego. “So, why hasn’t anyone seen you before?”
Omega took his hand away from Riley’s shoulder, turned him around and pointed down. “I was there. Buried beneath the labyrinth waiting for my day to come. The moment Mother was killed it signaled my awakening. I have waited a long time for your arrival. At times I grew impatient but Mother’s instructions were clear. I had to wait for you to come to me. I’m ashamed to admit, in my eagerness to put Mother’s plan into action I almost didn’t listen.” He waved his hand in an almost human dismissive gesture. “But finally here you are. And now we can get started.”
But Riley still didn’t get it. “Started on what?”
“On Mother’s plan of course. Well, technically it’s already started. Those that I call the lost ones have already begun to cleanse this city of its inferior inhabitants. With a few choice female selections brought to me, I will then replace the humans with my creations.”
“Why only females? Aren’t there going to be any male ‘superhumans’ in your little world?”
Omega ignored his brother’s sarcastic tone. It wasn’t Riley’s fault their mother hadn’t explained everything to him more fully. “Of course there will be males. How will the world repopulate itself if there wasn’t? After all I’m good but even I couldn’t repopulate the whole planet without a lot of help.” As Omega stared at Riley a slow smile began to spread across his face.
A cold chill swept through Riley as it finally dawned on him what the plan was. Omega wasn’t going to create as he had been created but he planned on doing it the old fashioned way. “You can’t do this! These are human beings. You can’t just decide who lives and who dies.”
“But I didn’t. Mother did that. I am simply the tool of her plan.” Omega rubbed his hand across his chest. “I do hope they bring me a couple of each. As much as I love brunette and red headed women. I really do love the ones with the blonde hair the most. There’s just something about them that makes me.......” He let his sentence trail off as Riley interrupted.
“So these women have your children and then....”
“You have to understand. My children will grow at a faster rate than the normal human fetus. He or she will be ready to be born within a month or two depending on the strength of the woman selected to carry it.”
Another cold chill rushed through him. “And what happens to her?
Omega shook his head.
“You’ll kill them?”
“I won’t mean to. After all they will be the biological mother of my children but you’re right after how do humans say it...’crunching the numbers’ in almost all the cases they won’t survive childbirth. But their death serves a greater purpose. They will be instrumental in ushering in a new world. One where there will be no more war, famine, disease or abuse.” Omega shook his head sadly. “I have watched your tv and listened to your radio and the amount of violence committed is obscene.”
Riley quickly interrupted again. “But you’re doing the same thing!”
Omega’s nostril’s flared in anger at the insult. “I am not! I am making the world a better place just as mother wished it. No man would ever dare hurt one of my children not just because they will be capable of hurting back but because we will be incapable of hurting each other. It’s in our genetics.”
“But you’re hurting people now.”
“Pffft. These are only humans. And from what I’ve seen most of them deserve to die.” Omega leaned closer to Riley. “If it makes you feel better to know, the lost ones have orders to make their deaths quick and as painless as possible.”
“What about your lost ones? What happens to them?
“In time, they will have to be exterminated, of course. All vampire kind will have to be wiped from existence just as most of the humans will be. While they do serve their purpose now, they are without a doubt too inferior to exist in Mother’s perfect new world.”
For a brief moment the thought of no more vampires pleased him greatly. And then a look of horror crossed Riley’s face. “But the children....”
“I will not have you make me out to be a monster. No children are being hurt in this campaign to cleanse the city. The lost ones are only taking out the humans in power. Then I will run the city until a handful of my children are able to take over and then we will move on to the next and then the next. And as the remaining human population mates with my children there will be no more weak, pitiful humans. They will all be superhumans.”
For the first time since the conversation started Riley began to relax. The plan could take years to put into effect surely by then someone would come up with a plan to stop Omega.
“I know what you’re thinking, Riley. But that’s why you’re here.”
Riley’s head snapped up. “What are you going to do with me?”
Once more Omega’s huge hand fell onto Riley’s shoulder and grasped it hard. “You’re going to help me, of course. But first I need to put a part of me inside of you.”
Oh hell no, he doesn’t! “What? You’re not touching me!” Riley desperately tried to loosen the tight grip. There was no way in hell he was letting that monster put anything inside of him.
Omega snickered at the pitiful human resistance. “Relax, brother. I am merely gifting you with a piece of myself. There will be nothing inappropriate I assure you.” At Riley’s doubtful look, Omega laughed and turned Riley towards the hall. ”Oh, Relax. And please don’t flatter yourself. Didn’t you understand that I do prefer women?”
Buffy watched the scene play out in front of her in stunned silence. Omega, as he called himself, did remind her a lot of Adam only a lot better looking. He was tall, very tall with long hair that brushed his broad shoulders. His skin was the deep bronze color that one only gets by spending every waking moment lying in the sun. And his eyes were the blackest eyes she had ever seen. She could almost drown in their sinful depths. All in all she feared it wouldn’t be difficult to conceive his children. It would probably even be..... Buffy quickly brought herself up short. What the hell was she thinking? The thing was killing people and there she was panting over a hot piece of....well, hotness. And damn was he hot! Disgusted with herself Buffy stood up. Enough was enough.
“Hold it right there! He’s not going anywhere with you.”
Omega dropped his hand from Riley’s shoulder and quickly turned around. “Riley, where are your manners? You didn’t tell me that you had brought me a gift.”
“I got news for you pal, I’m not anyone’s gift.”
The big guy ignored her and continued to stare in appreciation. He really did love blondes the best. How fitting that it was his brother who had brought him the most choicest of morsels. He licked his lips as he looked her up and down. “I really hope I don’t damage you because I am going to enjoy you. So very much.”
Buffy’s mouth hung open in shock before she quickly closed it. Her body trembled with fear laced anger. “You are not going to rape me!”
“Rape?” Omega shook his head sadly. “First Riley and now you. Where do you two get these ideas? I am not a monster.” He repeated his words to Riley from earlier. “I can assure you I have no intention of raping you. I won’t have to. Look at me.” He paused to give the woman in front of him enough time to appreciate his physique. “You will come to me willingly. You will welcome my touch.” A smile so beautiful and yet so very wicked pulled at the corners of his mouth. “As a matter of fact you will beg for me to take you. And I promise you that you will enjoy it.”
As Buffy, speechless, sputtered in indignation, pure unadulterated rage went through Riley at the thought of the thing standing in front of him touching Buffy. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t his any longer, he wasn’t about to let Omega hurt her. But without a weapon how was he supposed to... And then it dawned on him. There had to be a reason the brass had insisted he carry the M14 rifle. “Buffy, use the rifle!”
Once again, Omega shook his head. “That weapon will have no effect on me. Mere bullets can’t hurt me.”
Buffy stood straight and placed the rifle against her shoulder. “Some how I doubt that these are mere bullets.” Without another word she squeezed the trigger. The sound was deafening, Buffy landed on her ass inches from the doorway from the force of whatever had left the barrel.
Across the room, Riley lay next to the wall, his head at an odd angle. But there was no sign of Omega.
She quickly stood up and rushed to his side. “Riley, don’t die. Please don’t die. You can’t leave me.”
Riley opened one eye to stare at Buffy. Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks as she tenderly brushed his hair away from his forehead. At the look in her eyes he knew he would never leave her again. But that was something they would have plenty of time to discuss later. “I’m okay, Buffy.” He gently raised himself to a sitting position. “I’ll probably have one hell of a goose egg on the back of my head but it could have been worse.” He waited for her laughter but when none was forthcoming he raised his head to look into her eyes. “Hey, I’m okay.”
Buffy nodded her head and quickly brushed away the tears.
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know. The last thing I remember is him standing right in front of me as I pulled the trigger and in the next moment I was on my ass. Why didn’t you tell me that thing had a kick to it?”
Riley shook his head. “I didn’t know. All I knew was that the brass had insisted that I carry it with me. Apparently, they knew about Omega. And...”
“They sent you to clean up their mess. Typical.”
“Actually, Buffy, it was Maggie’s mess.”
Buffy shot him a look as she helped him stand. “Let’s do a search and make sure he’s gone before we go after the vampire’s he’s left loose in the city.”
Riley and Buffy searched every part of the amazing cathedral but there was no sign of Omega with the exception of the clothes he was wearing left in the middle of the floor.
“Well, what’d you know. The good guys actually win one. What do you say after we take care of the vamps we do a little sight seeing?”
Buffy nodded her head. She would love to spend some time with Riley. But as they walked down the steps of the cathedral she still couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
Deep beneath the cathedral, Omega laid down slowly, his body bruised but not destroyed. Whatever the blonde woman called Buffy had shot him with had unnerved him. He had thought nothing could hurt him. Mother had said so. But apparently she hadn’t planned on Riley turning against him. He should be furious at his brother’s betrayal. He had expected some level of loyalty from him but perhaps he should have expected it. After all Riley wasn’t raised knowing Mother’s plan. He would forgive him. He would let Riley regain his trust. But first he would have to think on how best to regroup and come up with another way to put Mother’s plan in action. Until then he would rest and wait.